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Best Mohammad Suleman assassination conspiracy theories

This is a great list of possible reasons a top Syrian general was assassinated.

1- Mr. Suleiman was killed by the Syrian regime because he knows too much about the coordination between Syria, Iran and North Korea on nuclear programs.

2- Mr. Suleiman was killed by the Iranians to revenge the killing of Imad Mughnieh 6 months ago in Damascus. This theory is especially credible considering the fact that it took place while Mr. Assad was in Tehran.

3- Mr. Suleiman was killed by the Iranians to warn the Syrian regime of getting too cozy with Israel.

4- Mr. Suleiman was killed by the Syrian regime because he’s connected to the Hariri assassination

5- Mr. Suleiman was killed by the Syrian regime as a show of goodwill to Israel, since the officer was rumored to be the liaison between the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.

6- Mr. Suleiman was killed by the Israeli intelligence as a way to put pressure on Mr. Assad to take action with regards to Hezbollah’s armament.

Iraqi Army to buy M1-A1 Abrams tanks

Just what they need (not). I guess some in the Pentagon are envisioning an Iraq without a couple of US Armored divisions playing in the sand.

The Defense Department agency said it has notified Congress of the proposed sale of 140 M1A1s to Iraq. Under the project, the United States would then upgrade the M1A1s to M1A1M configuration in a $2.16 billion deal.

Using a brick to stomp on ants if they use them against the insurgents. So I wonder what they might be used for?

They aren’t going to have that much luck in the inner cities of Iraq with their narrow roads and whatnot, but maybe out in the open desert against another tank force they might have a little better time. Hmmm…let’s see. Kuwait to the South. Been there, done that, lost the t-shirt. Saudis to the South, which already have M1s of their own. Jordan to the West. Not much of a threat there. Syria and Turkey to the north. The former a paper shell, the latter filled with mountains. So I guess that leaves by ‘default’ Iran to the East. Wonder what they might need tanks for against Iran?

Syrian General Mohammad Suleiman who ran guns to Hezbollah found dead.

Well not really that much of a surprise, given his alleged role in shipping weapons to Hezbollah.

A Syrian general shot to death at a beach resort over the weekend was a top overseer of his country’s weapons shipments to Hezbollah, according to opposition Web sites and Arab and Israeli news media.

Syria by late Monday had issued no reaction to widespread reports of the assassination of Brig. Gen. Mohammad Suleiman near the Syrian port city of Tartous on Friday night.

Apparently he was shot four times by a man on a yacht, who apparently escaped.

Now before you go blaming the Mossad, there is already some information (or disinformation) in the Israeli press. The Jerusalem Post is citing anti-Syrian dissidents of saying ‘he knew too much’:

Suleiman, 49, was responsible for “sensitive security files” in the Syrian president’s office and in charge of the financing and reform of the Syrian army, the source said. But he added that it was too early to know whether the assassination had to do with particular files Suleiman handled.

Maybe when the spin calms down we’ll get a better idea why this happened.

Rising oil = higher shipping $ = < Chinese imports: NYTimes

Today’s New York Times has some interesting bits about energy costs and the effect on the US and Chinese manufacturing sector (made all the more relevant by the fact I’m reading a book on the history of the shipping container). Basically, the cheap underwear that you buy from WalMart is going to go up in price.

The cost of shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to the United States has risen to $8,000, compared with $3,000 early in the decade, according to a recent study of transportation costs. Big container ships, the pack mules of the 21st-century economy, have shaved their top speed by nearly 20 percent to save on fuel costs, substantially slowing shipping times.

The study, published in May by the Canadian investment bank CIBC World Markets, calculates that the recent surge in shipping costs is on average the equivalent of a 9 percent tariff on trade. “The cost of moving goods, not the cost of tariffs, is the largest barrier to global trade today,” the report concluded, and as a result “has effectively offset all the trade liberalization efforts of the last three decades.”

While many feel the effects of globalization will be very hard to undo, they also point out that oil prices are not about to drop anytime soon. The article mentions the maquiladora factories in Mexico (closed back when oil was $10 a barrel) will soon be reopening. It also cites as an example the decision by Telsa motors to build their car in California instead of bringing all the parts together globally in one massively expensive shipping operation.

When I was in China, I was shocked at how little energy is available in some of the industrial areas. Three to four days a week see black or brown outs, and many of the factories have large scale (and inefficient) generators to keep operations functioning. I seem to recall the figure that energy requirements were 3x those in the to produce the same goods because of all the problems in the electrical grid.

Related: The head of Alibaba, sort of the ‘gateway’ to Chinese manufacturers, is predicting hard times ahead for his company (which relies in large part by doing introductions between Western buyers and Chinese factories).

Your laptop will be seized at the border if we like it

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has confirmed to the Washington Post what many people have mentioned in recent months: DHS border guards are seizing laptops, Blackberries and other electronic items at the border with little or no probable cause of wrongdoing.

Federal agents may take a traveler’s laptop computer or other electronic device to an off-site location for an unspecified period of time without any suspicion of wrongdoing, as part of border search policies theDepartment of Homeland Security recently disclosed.

Also, officials may share copies of the laptop’s contents with other agencies and private entities for language translation, data decryption or other reasons, according to the policies, dated July 16 and issued by two DHS agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The full policy is here. Interesting that they don’t actually cite any law as authority for the seizures, though the 9th Circuit of California (i.e. the ‘Whacky Circuit) has upheld the searches.

Typical ’security guard turned cop’ mentality going on here. My friends in the intelligence community really get tired of law enforcement stuff like this as the giant ‘hoovering’ effect of pulling in more and more intelligence yields very little nuggets but encourages the bad guys to find systems of communicating ‘off the grid’ which they simply cannot penetrate.

I suspect this policy will be changed soon.

F-117 Stealth Fighters are retired

Wow, I’m so out of it sometimes. I guess I hadn’t really been keeping up with comings and goings, but the official retirement ceremony took place in the last few months for the F-117 Stealth Fighter. Made famous for the first strikes in Desert Storm, the F-117 is now antiquated with late 1970s electronics especially when newer aircraft with stealthy capabilities are now coming online.

Bush asks Pakistan: Just who is in charge of the ISI?

In diplomatic language, that’s a pretty aggressive statement, but after a spate of bombings in Pakistan and more than a coincidental number of ‘last minute escapes’ of senior Taliban officials, the question is coming up more and more according to the BBC.

The burning issue of course is as to who controls the ISI,” he said.

“In their [the Americans’] view there are some people at some level in the ISI who tip off the Taleban at some level about impending missile attacks when these are shared with the Pakistanis.

“They [the Americans] have expressed displeasure over this.”

Mr Mukhtar also openly admitted that President Bush had asked who was really in charge of the ISI during the visit to Washington.

Pakistan is a nuclear power. The idea that the military, or more importantly, the intelligence services are not quite inline with the current government is yet another reason to be a bit fearful of things in the region.

And in case you are wondering what an airstrike looks like on the Pakistan border, here’s some footage of an attack on the Taliban that resulted in (at the same time, whatever) the deaths of several Pakistani border guards (there is a big debate on who is to blame).

The Fall of the Berlin Wall, the view from East Germany

Wow. This is a pretty amazing video of some of the East Germans pushing and pleading with border guards to let them through to the West on the night of the Fall of the Berlin wall. Sure we’ve seen the pictures from the West, but here is what it looked like from the other side.

Awesome. Just awesome.

Russians to deploy nuclear bombers to Cuba

Nope, it’s not a 1962 headline, but one you might read shortly.

Leaks are dripping out of a Kremlin-friendly news organizations in Europe that are suggesting Russia may soon stage nuclear-capable bombers in Cuba, so reports the Washington Post.

Some Russian experts dismissed the possibility of a new Cuban crisis. “It’s very silly psychological warfare,” said Alexander Golts, an independent military analyst, in a telephone interview. “Putin and Medvedev are very militant in words but very cautious in practical issues. They have not taken any step that can be seen as a real threat to the West, and I cannot see any reason to raise this threat against the U.S.”

But “if it’s true, it looks like a repetition of the Caribbean crisis” he said, using the common Russian term for the Cuban missile crisis.

Maybe the Russians are just doing this to make Obama look more like JFK.

Radovan Karadzic finally captured by Serbian police

It only took a decade…

You may remember this guy from the war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. Governments have been ‘looking for him’ (more or less, kind of) since the wars ended and the atrocities were discovered, but despite his unique hair do, it seems no one has ever been able to find him.

Supporters of him will quickly point to ‘other atrocities’ that were committed by the other side, but his arrest might soon help put an end to an ugly chapter in European history.

The BBC is reporting the details on his arrest:

The Bosnian Serb wartime political leader disappeared in 1996.

He had been indicted by the UN tribunal for war crimes and genocide over the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica.

His wartime military leader, Ratko Mladic, remains at large.

“Radovan Karadzic was located and arrested tonight” by Serbian security officers, a statement by the office of President Boris Tadic said, without giving details.

“Karadzic was brought to the investigative judge of the War Crimes Court in Belgrade, in accordance with the law on cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.”